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Rifle faces unbeaten Alamosa

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson
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RIFLE, Colo. Rifle vs. Alamosa. No hype – just game. And, Saturday’s matchup between the two Class 3A powerhouses is possibly the most attractive game of the 2006 state football playoffs to date.The best part for area fans is the game is in Rifle. A fact the Bears hope to use to their advantage when they line up against the Mean Moose Saturday at Bears Stadium.While the outcome will be determined on the field, recent history indicates the Bears are tough to beat at home.

Over the last three seasons Rifle’s won six of seven playoff games it’s hosted. The Bears extended their streak and advanced to quarterfinals with a 35-10 win against Elizabeth last week.”I think that it’s great that we’re playing at home,” said head coach Damon Wells. “But, I’m pretty sure Alamosa is not at a huge disadvantage because of traveling. We’ve proved that. We won at Northridge, we won at Niwot. And they were both ranked No. 1 in the state. (If I was an opponent) I would not love to play a football game at Rifle.”Wells, however, is not about to take the Mean Moose lightly.”We know that they’re good,” Wells said of Alamosa, who he scrimmaged against back in August. “I don’t know if we needed to scrimmage them to find that out,” Wells continued. “But, we’re in a good position in that we have seen them live.”

Unbeaten in 2006, Alamosa has outscored its opponents 547-64, averaging just under 50 points per game offensively while holding opponents to less than six points. Six of the Mean Moose’s 11 wins were by shutout.Senior linebacker Gabe Gutierrez is the defensive unit’s top tackler with 62 unassisted and 55 assisted tackles. Teammate Brian Ford, also a linebacker, has equally impressive stats. To date, the sophomore has made 52 solo tackles and assisted on 69 others.When they switch to offense, the numbers are just as gaudy.Quarterback Clay Garcia is among the state’s best at the position. The senior has completed over 57 percent of his pass attempts (141 of 246), 40 for touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Garcia’s main targets are seniors Dustin Bolt (50 receptions, 1,061 yards, 15 touchdowns) and Jason Espinoza (46 catches, 1,160 yards, 16 TD’s).When Alamosa opts to run, the ball usually winds up in the hands of senior Sonny Yohn, who averages 7.7 yards a carry and has rushed for 17 touchdowns.



When it comes to stats, Rifle has two running backs with strong numbers too.Tyler Thompson, who scored three touchdowns in the Elizabeth game, has rushed for more than 1,000 yards, as has his backfield mate Colby McFarlin.A key factor that propelled Rifle to its second half comeback after trailing 10-0 at halftime to Elizabeth last week, Wells said, was the Bears’ mental and physical toughness.Those traits should be in effect again on Saturday.”Remaining confident against a team like Alamosa is huge. It would be major for any high school aged kid. If you just look at their scores alone, and the vast majority of their outcomes of their games,” Wells said. “You look at that and you’d think the outcome would be a forgone conclusion. So I think remaining confident in what you have the ability to do is important. “Alamosa is a good enough, well coached enough team where if you play them for 48 minutes, it’s not going to be 48 minutes of momentum in your favor. There are going to be momentum swings. So remaining confident during those times is going to be pretty important.”Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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